SEO or Search Engine Optimization – we’ve all heard this term being used at countless digital marketing events or when we talk about launching a new website or the performance of an existing one. What exactly is SEO and why does it seem so important to internet marketers
Search Engine Optimization is the process of influencing the ranking or visibility of a website or web page in the non-paid search results of a search engine – Google, Bing, and Yahoo being the preferred search engines among internet users
Being #1 Matters!
From the consumers’ (in our case, internet search users’) point of view, the first few results returned by a search engine in response to a search query are the most relevant and generate the most traffic. The key is to not only make your website search engine friendly but also providing quality content to visitors for retaining the traffic generated towards the site. So how do we ensure effective optimization of our website? It is pertinent that we look at certain aspects of SEO in order to ensure the visibility and traffic of our site multiplies
1. On-Page SEO:
This mainly covers the content of the web pages, how targeted they are towards relevant keywords and the kind of quality and user-friendly experience they provide to visitors
Reference: MOZ According to Google’s Search Engine Optimization Guide, there are a number of basic things that can be done:
Create unique, accurate page titles – it appears in the search results as the topic of a web page
Be precise in describing the page’s content – make sure it connects with the title
Generate distinct title tags for each page – a single title may narrow the focus of search engines
Titles should ideally be brief but descriptive – search engines may show only part of it if it’s too long
Be meticulous about the description’ meta tag
Gives a summary of what the page is about – maybe a short paragraph
Search engines may use them as bits to describe your page
Gives users an idea about the content of the page
Improve the structure of URLs
Use simple to understand and relevant words in URLs
URLs appear in search results and may help in a higher page ranking in search results
Improve the structure of URLs
Make a user-friendly website
Be sure to offer quality content and services
Optimize use of images using the alt’ attribute that allows alternative text for the image in case it cannot be displayed
Use rel’ attribute of a link to ”Nofollow” for links that you do not want search engines to follow
Proper configuration of mobile sites is essential so they are indexed accurately
Promotion of website in the right way – on social media or site related communities
2. Google’s Search Console
Contains Search Analytics Report that analyzes clicks from Google Search, useful to find out keywords used by users to find content related to your site
It basically means what other sites say about our website. Organic links with important and preferred websites inspire the trust of search engines to your website.
Reference: Link Building Guide To comprehend simply, consider that you’re a wholesaler of clothes but retailers do not visit and would rather buy from somewhere else because your designs are out-dated. You are a forgotten entity. On the other hand, the neighboring wholesaler has hoards of retailers flocked inside his shop; the word of mouth is strong and attracts more customers for him because he carries the latest designs and trends. With websites, it helps a lot when you link other pages internally on your website. If you shared or posted a topic you wrote on your website on another website or blog, it is pertinent that you link to that page.
4. Website Speed
The basics are relatively simple and are focused towards the structure and content of your website. This is a little bit of the technical side of SEO. You need not worry seeing the word technical’ here. It does not refer to some complicated procedures relating to SEO but rather refers to what needs to be done after the content is developed. We’re living in a perpetually changing world of technological advances where it is the need of the hour to stay up-to-date with the shifting work dynamics, especially the way SEO works, which is continuously evolving. As search engines become more refined, the technical aspects of SEO are also changing.
There are certain factors you need to be aware of to improve your website’s speed:
Internet users are looking for quick information. They lose interest and close a website that loads slowly and moves on to check other search results. This is called Pogo-sticking. It shows the search engines that a user wasn’t satisfied with the site and repeats instances of this scenario lead to a drop in ranking.
TTFB (time to the first byte), which is the time required for the first byte of a web page data to load is directly proportional to rankings. Hence, the slower the TTFB, the lower the ranking of the website.
Some factors that affect website speeds are more common than others of which the following rank at the top:
Content without HTTP compression
A number of CSS image requests
Missing caching information
5. Top things Businesses are Missing with Their Website!
This was based on an analysis of the top 1000 Alexa ranked websites.
Importance of mobile friendliness: With the focus shifting towards increased Smartphone and mobile users, it is essential that your site is mobile friendly or it could lead to a drop in rankings
A clear and targeted site structural design: It aids Google in indexing your pages and ranking them faster
Be wary of page redirects: While page redirects are sometimes needed to keep a site up to date, we need to be cautious that we do not confuse the search engine. Redirects are permanent and temporary. Permanent ones are simple and search engines transfer the authority of the same easily. However, in a temporary one, the search engine does not transfer the authority and if the redirect stays for a longer time, it may result in your site losing part of your traffic.
The thing is; SEO requires time, focus and strong dedication. Blog posts will hardly ever rank right away. But by using SEO best practices and constantly optimizing pages for search, using the right keywords and maintaining site content quality, your website would soon generate more traffic and attain a higher ranking in search engines.
If any local business owner were asked whether or not they would like to get more customers, the answer would be a given – yes!
Running a successful brick and mortar business is difficult. You might have a great customer base who regularly buy your product or services, but it’s important to make sure that fresh new business is always coming in. For business owners or marketing managers, it takes a lot of effort to keep your local internet presence maintained with content, reviews, SEO, and social media.
In fact, maybe that’s an aspect you haven’t really looked at and assumed that the expense of hiring an agency to do it would never pan out.
This is where local businesses actually have an opportunity to really shine online – if they approach outsourced marketing the right way – with a focus on tracking sales… and this is key.
If you’re thinking that this sounds like more work, don’t worry. This is something that a good marketing company will be able to help you handle. And, in the end, you’ll be able to relax more because you know that your campaign is generating a true ROI.
Here are the key search ranking tactics that an outsourced marketing agency can help local businesses with.
1. Research for the Right Keywords
Not all keywords are created equal. Because of this, you’ll need to know what keywords your customers use to find you.
For example, if you own a law firm in Seattle, Washington that specializes in personal injury, then seattle personal injury lawyer would be an important keyword theme to focus on.
Here’s another example. If you are a plastic surgeon in the Seattle area, then you would want to look at ranking around the keyword theme plastic surgery Seattle.
Ranking for these different keyword themes can take a significant amount of time and effort, but the amount that it will require for you depends on the industry you’re in. If you’re in a major city and you are in the medical profession, it will take more work to rank well than if you were focusing on a suburb.
Because of this, a good marketing company may not necessarily go after keywords this difficult right at the beginning. Instead, they’ll bring in sales by going after low hanging fruit – keywords that are longer, easier to rank for, but that are highly relevant to bringing in potential customers. A good example of this would be a keyword like local cosmetic surgeon bellevue.
2. Developing the right content, consistently… for the right audience.
It’s a given that you will need high quality content. Google takes things like grammar and how well it’s connecting with your visitors into account.
For your company, content will be critical for both visitors and search engines. Here’s a great article on optimizing your content for search engines and your audience.
A good marketing company will ask you questions about your audience and help develop buyer personas for your company. This way, your content will specifically be targeted to reach who you want to reach.
It’s important to note that, not only does Google want to see good content, it also likes to see it consistently. It tells them that you are a good resource for your industry and are likely more relevant than your competitors.
3. Getting Google Local Setup
Google local optimization takes getting in front of local traffic to the next level. In this case, Google will show a “7 pack” of businesses that are relevant, local, and often have reviews. Getting this local recognition is generally due to building out local citations by an SEO. These local signals show Google that you’re relevant and legitimate – and worth recommending in their local 7-Pack listings.
This allows you to showcase how well you serve your clients and what you offer right from the search engine itself.
4. Creating or claiming your local listings
Local listings can consist of local directories or review websites. For local optimization, it’s important to claim these listings for your business – as long as they are quality and relevant. If you’re not sure what a citation is, just click the link above.
Citations are important because Google takes them into account when they measure how relevant you are to a local area and keyword. A good marketing agency will be able to help you get these claimed, uniform, and optimized correctly for your local market.
Social profiles would also be included in this. For local optimization, it’s also important that your social profiles match, and are optimized. This means including your physical location, business or store name, and your website URL. Again, consistency is important.
5. Get genuine reviews
We’ve run the gamut as far as review campaigns are concerned. In fact, a couple of years ago Google went through and cleaned out entire Google Local profiles and deleted them because of fake reviews. This severely impacted several businesses who relied primarily on local leads.
Even though testimonials can be difficult to get at times, a good marketing agency will be able to help you develop a consistent campaign that drips in leads from your customer base.
6. Reaching out
It’s important to reach out locally. This will provide more opportunities for your business to get talked about and linked to online. Reaching out to local bloggers and incorporating Press Releases can be a great way to get into your community.
Even though it’s not online marketing specifically, doing sponsorships or hosting networking events can open up some online opportunities as well.
7. Optimize For Mobile
Mobile use is huge and it’s growing – which makes it even more important for local businesses to develop a mobile responsive website.
This is different than having just a “mobile” website though. Because of the sheer amount of variation between screen sizes, being responsive is key. It allows you to optimize their experience to the screen they are on.
Analyze and monitor your results
A good marketing company will help you go over your results and tie them to actual sales.
We call this process “closing the loop.” Here’s what it allows us to learn:
What of your marketing channels are most efficient
The design, structure, and layout of your website plays a major role in attracting leads and creating conversions. Many people determine the reliability and capability of a business within seconds of viewing a page of their website. Because of this, it is important that your website be one that attracts the eye and conveys capability to your viewers.
If you’re looking to change your brand or update your website, connect with our Seattle Web Design Company. Also, be sure to read about the latest Google update coming on April 21st (I mention this in the next section of this article).
As times change and new layouts are attempted, designs with certain features have risen to the top, as they have shown to be more attractive to visitors. To help boost your lead conversion rate and make your website memorable, here is our list of 7 upcoming web design trends that you need to know about.
With the explosion of technology over the past few decades comes both challenges and opportunities for web designers. With the varying screen sizes, from smart phones and tablets to big screen TVs, designers have had to come up with a way to ensure all users can comfortably surf the web from any of these devices.
A responsive web structure allows the content of your site to shift, expand, shrink, and move to fit the size of the screen used by the viewer. This capability allows users to easily navigate to your website and browse your content from any device, increasing their chances of becoming a lead.
A site that lacks a responsive layout requires viewers to pull and drag the structure around the screen to see different parts of the web page. A non-responsive structure requires that the viewer put extra effort into viewing your websites content. This puts your business at serious risk of losing potential leads simply because viewers do not want the hassle of navigating your website. Embracing this latest feature in web design will keep you in the competition.
Major Update: As of April 21st 2015 Google is going to be penalizing website that are not mobile friendly. To check to see if Google sees your website as mobile friendly use Google’s provided checker tool here. If you’re website is not mobile friendly you will experience a drastic drop in rankings via mobile devices. You can learn more about this update from Google here.
When a viewer first opens up your website, you want to make a good first impression. Complex, intricate, and busy designs have been used by numerous websites over time, and have shown to have a very poor return on investment (ROI). Viewers usually perceive the site as messy, unkempt, and feel that it will require extra time and effort to find the information they’re looking for.
So they look elsewhere.
The latest design development shows that sites with a one dimensional appearance are far more attractive to users than those with three dimensions. A flat style that uses attractive colors and makes prominent information readily available has shown to attract more viewers and potential leads. Due to the effective results this layout produces, expect to see it used more and more in 2015.
Scroll, No Click
As the use of smartphones becomes more and more common place, creating a site that is comfortably navigated from a phone is a great way to make good impression. Instead of requiring users to click or push buttons on a little screen, web designers have found that developing a structure which allows the users to simply scroll through information is a far simpler way of conveying the same information.
Instead of squinty eyes and delicate finger tapping, viewers can leisurely scroll through your website. Putting prominent information at the top of your home page and making the rest easy to access will open up another avenue through which potential customers can contact you.
Pictures and Videos
Pictures are a great tool for attracting and directing the eyes of your users. Not only can great images add a sophisticated touch to your website, they communicate a sense of cleanliness and quality service. They are also far more entertaining to users than words on a webpage.
Pictures are often used by designers to direct users to certain sections of content on a website. If people are in an image on your website, users are quick to notice two things: the eyes of the people in the image, and where their eyes are looking. Designers will often use this to their advantage by inserting images of people looking toward a Call To Action, or facing the direction of important information.
Videos are also a quick and easy way to inform your users. With one click, viewers have the opportunity to visibly and audibly takes in all that your business is, and what it can provide. Viewers are far more likely to watch a video than read through lines of text.
When designing basic structure of a website, designers have found a method of displaying information that users find very attractive. The Card Design is a method of designing that divides the website into card like sections, each containing an attractive image or title describing the content to which it links. Selecting a desired card or a particular section of the screen will take that user to the information they are interested in.
The simple layout with large attractive images is intriguing to the eyes and draws a user into the page. They immediately begin looking for the card that would provide exactly the information they need. Creating the proper cards to provide the right information for your visitors is a necessary step of the process, but one that has the potential of yielding big results. A website that is easy to navigate while simultaneously providing what users want will bring you one step closer to getting more leads.
Many business have taken the uncomfortable step of starting and maintaining a website. While this is a good first step, a website with poor visuals, no responsiveness, and difficult navigation will turn viewers away faster than you can imagine.
If starting and maintaining a website seems like more than you can handle, consider outsourcing it to a reliable inbound marketing agency. Here at Fannit, one of our specialities is helping our clients maintain a relevant and attractive website to help draw in leads for their businesses.
When searching for an inbound marketing agency to meet your inbound marketing needs, it can sometimes be difficult to decide on which business to partner with. Who offers the services you need? Can they provide quality services? Will they be communicative and timely? Will they be flexible if you want things changed or adjusted? These are all necessary questions to ask.
Over our years of work as an inbound marketing agency, we’ve identified 3 critical areas where skill and reliability should be demonstrated.
1. Attractive Manner
Every inbound marketing agency should work to present their services in a way that demonstrates their trustworthiness and reliability. This starts with the face they give their website. A clean layout, clear information, and easy access to contact info demonstrates organisation, skill, and confidence.
Behind every product or service is a team. The character of a business’s team members can give business owners a glimpse into the capabilities of the organisation. Teams of passionate people that are energetic and motivated will be showcased in the quality of their services and interactions with their clients or customers. They are intentional about providing you great services that meet your expectations and needs.
The best inbound marketing agencies are the ones that won’t leave you in the dust. Instead, as they work to create and develop marketing strategies and content, they are bringing you along for the ride. This means learning about your needs, desires, and ideas so that they are equipped to offer you the best they can give.
At Fannit, we work to make our services readily available to businesses that are looking to increase their sales and conversions. Our staff offers free consultations to learn about the problems businesses are facing and to offer assistance and advice on how to help their company reach new heights.
2. Quality Services
It is very possible for a company to be all it can be in appearance, but lack substantial services. The quality of services they provide and the rate of customer satisfaction will assist in determining if this is a business you can trust with your inbound marketing. Here is a brief list of some of the things to look for in an inbound marketing business:
Current, well-informed, content that is powerful and effective
Tailored and specialized inbound marketing strategies
Skilled use of SEO to create keyword dense content
Active analysis of traffic and website statistics
Clear and frequent communication with clients
3. Great Results
At the end of the day, you want a inbound marketing agency that you can trust to provide great products and real results. If an inbound marketing agency seems to be providing great services, but can’t seem to get noticeable results, they’re probably not worth your time.
Another way to analyze if a marketing agency is really worth your time and money is to asses the testimonies of previous customers. Great services mean real results, and real results make for happy customers. By taking a closer look at the experiences of current or previous customers, you take into account their experiences and results.
Successful marketing agencies know how to set tangible goals and will decide how they want to reach them. They will actively measure and analyze their performance, and adjust their strategy when seen as necessary. They consider what makes your company unique, and work to make it stand out. In addition to all of this, they must be able to consistently provide great quality content and quality services.
At Fannit, we’re known for our quality services and great results. After having met with clients to identify a marketing strategy, our staff actively works to communicate with customers so as to best provide for their needs.
Conversion. It’s the reason that we marketers drive traffic to a website. Our goal, the one purpose of doing SEO, is to acquire new customers for our clients and our companies.
To do this, we perform keyword research. We dig in and learn about what it is that users are searching for. We try and put ourselves into the mindset of the people we hope to acquire through persona development and customer interviews. All of this effort comes out as a strategy. A keyword theme is written up, and so begins the process of ranking.
So why is it that, an average 97% of the time, the very people that marketers spend so much time working to attract don’t convert?
Is it that they just targeted really crummy keywords, and the traffic they send is junk? I don’t think so. You’ll often find that a well done SEO effort yields very engaged traffic, people that, you would think, would be highly inclined to buy.
Alas, not so much. Even websites with very high return on marketing spends are usually still in the single digits as far as conversion rate.
So, what’s the problem?
The problem is this: The assumption that we can tell what a person is thinking just by looking at the phrase that an unknown user types into a single field form is flawed. Why assume we know what they are thinking? Why assume we know why they chose to type in those specific words? Why assume that they are someone we can sell too? We can’t. Not really.
SEO, in this sense, is terribly flawed. If it were otherwise, we would have dramatically better conversion rates.
The simple fact is that the vast majority of users, even users who visit from extremely relevant keywords, simply won’t buy from you. The reason?
They aren’t ready to. And this is where nurturing, informing, and maintaining a relationship with a viewer becomes so vitally important.
And to curtail a possible objection that you might be thinking of, targeting your content to focus on just the people at the bottom doesn’t seem to work much better. So called commercial intent keywords convert people into sales well, but again, only a paltry percentage actually convert. All too often, the people who use commercial intent keywords just aren’t ready to buy.
What is the Solution to This Failure of SEO?
The conversion process can be summed up in the three word phrase “Browse, Compare, Buy”. It’s one of those things that any online marketer has had burned into their minds. Unfortunately, that places just as much focus on the Buy stage as it does the Browse stage. In our minds, the process looks a bit like this:
In reality, the time it takes for users to come to an understanding of what they feel they need, how they are going to approach satisfying that need, who or what they are going to choose to satisfy the need, making a decision, and committing to that decision, is entirely different:
Making the decision and acting on it is usually the smallest part of the process. People can spend days or weeks thinking about a dress or a pair of shoes, but it only takes a moment to purchase, and yet we as marketers spend an enormous amount of time focusing on just that final step.
Take a look at the time it took to actually make that purchase. During that entire time, as the user gets the information they want and makes the comparisons that they need to make, they are being exposed to your competition. They may even forget you exist.
So What Can Marketers Do to Compensate For This?
This is where the importance of nurturing comes into play. Email nurturing, paid ads, social media contact, and so on are all ways that you can keep your visitors engaged, interested, and aware of you. Maintaining a clear conversion path is also important — part of conversion rate optimization (CRO) is to make sure that next steps are intuitive, so that people naturally and easily move themselves down the sales funnel to purchase.
Instead, we need to stop thinking about just the buy stage. The bottom of the funnel isn’t where the people are. Using ebooks, guides, and coupons as offers and backed with a solid email marketing effort, we can stay top of mind with our customers during the browse stage, help guide them through the comparison stage, and ultimately be the only choice for them.
Winning our customers isn’t just about keywords and rankings. It’s about being there every step in their journey.
If you are in need of help with your SEO and inbound marketing strategies, give us a call.